But in the course of looking at media/privacy issues in the context of the demise of the News of the World, I came across this answer by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to a question on notice about the ACMA determination by Senator Ludlam. While the public interest reasoning still seems as wacky as ever-the Authority advised the Minister "the public interest justification for the broadcast was very limited and, in the particular circumstances of the case, arose solely on the ground that it explained the Minister's sudden resignation"- ACMA affirmed important propositions about the public interest that seem of enduring importance to the media generally, particularly in the light of current circumstances.
For example that "public figures.. are entitled to privacy protections" although less than private citizens (some politicians will be equally surprised at this); that "conduct in a public place can be the subject of legitimate expectations of privacy" (Mark Day at News' The Australian wouldn't like that); that "s.xual behaviour or preference is generally a private matter"; and that "a public interest must be ‘identifiable' not some mere assertion." Not that there is that much new in this. And has anyone alerted those who work at the News owned Daily Telegraph, where editors have run up "the public are interested=the public interest" argument on several occasions to justify bad calls, to another not new ACMA proposition, that "not all matters that are of interest to the public are matters of public interest"?
a. Public figures and private citizens alike are entitled to the privacy protections under the Code.
b. Even conduct in a public place can be the subject of legitimate expectations of privacy.
c. A person's s.xual behaviour or preference is generally a private matter.
d. But there is a balance to be struck between an individual's privacy and the broadcast of matters of public interest.
e. Not all matters that are of interest to the public are matters of public interest.
f. Under the Code, a public interest must be ‘identifiable'; not some mere assertion.
g. The public interest exception in the Code (to the prohibition of the broadcast of private material) is more likely to apply in cases involving public figures than private citizens.